Jul 12, 2010

What a month!

World Cup 2010 has wrapped. We have a new champion of world football – España. Once the parties are over, hangovers have been nursed, and the vuvuzelas begin to accumulate dust what will be the lasting legacy of the tournament? 

The South Africans did a commendable job. I think Sepp Blatter can give himself a pat on the back for doggedly backing SA’s bid against the odds. They defied the sceptics who were sounding warning bells about the lack of safety for American and European fans (nothing about the African fans, thoughJ). Reported crimes were miniscule and barely showed up on the radar.

Sure the lines to get to and from the stadiums were sometimes hideously long but that’s to be expected when you’re trying to cram 60,000< fans into one location at the same time!

Tournament favourites (Argentina, Brazil and Italy), the perennially over-rated English, and others were humbled by unlikely foes. Some would say it was the Jabulani ball, others would say it was the officiating but whatever it was, this tournament proved yet again that football is the great equaliser! Reputations are made and shredded on that pitch over the course of 90 minutes. 

Officiating was yet again a hot button issue. Disallowed goals, yellow cards that should have been straight reds, penalties not given – you name it, we had it! Is it time for FIFA® to implement goal line technology and replays?

I’ll take the goal line technology as it is currently used in tennis; to determine whether or not the ball crossed the line. On the matter of replays, let’s keep that in the NFL. World football is a fast moving game would only be mired down with petty calls for replays and would likely be abused as a delay tactic.

I don’t know if the heartbreak of loss was felt more keenly than it was for African fans. Only one team, Ghana, progressed of the group stages. On their young shoulders they carried the hopes of an entire continent, knocking out the U.S. team unceremoniously (yet again) only to be stopped by the hand of Suarez and their own inability to convert penalties and other opportunities into goals.

The finger pointing is ongoing. Who is to blame? Is it the overpaid and underwhelming foreign coaches? Or is it Africa’s own poor domestic leagues that unable to harness top quality talent coupled with European leagues who poach the young African talent?

Time and money need to be invested locally into sports academies, youth and adult leagues. We cannot continue to be deluded about the quality of African football without taking these steps. We need to match our passion for the game with real investment in the development of our game.

Overall, I enjoyed the last month of football. Thank you South Africa for hosting a memorable tournament. There are many lessons to be learned by FIFA® and future organising committees. See my previous post for some suggestions. 


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